Behan to lead social care inspectors

The president of the Association of Directors of Social Services has been named as the chief inspector of the new Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

David Behan, director of social services in Greenwich, will take up the shadow chief inspector post in November when he leaves the London council. He is due to finish his ADSS presidency in October.

The CSCI is expected to become operational in April 2004 after the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill receives royal assent. It will regulate and inspect public, private and voluntary social care providers and assess the performance of local social services authorities in England.

Despite being an amalgamation of the social care functions of the National Care Standards Commission (NCSC) and the Social Services Inspectorate and taking on some of the work of the Audit Commission, Behan said the commission was “truly a new body”.

He said the CSCI shadow chairperson, Denise Platt, would outline the new commission’s “values and principles” at the annual social services conference in Brighton in October and highlight the importance of engaging people who use social care services in its work.

Behan said that although work had started on transferring NCSC and SSI staff to the CSCI, it was too early to give details. But he acknowledged the need to learn from previous major transitions – particularly the move of local authority inspection staff to the NCSC in 2002.

He said it was “impossible” to confirm before the publication of the green paper on children whether the regulation and inspection of children’s social services would remain with the CSCI or move to Ofsted following the move of children’s social services from the Department of Health to the Department for Education and Skills in June.

But Behan insisted the CSCI would remain the “custodian of standards for social care”.

He also confirmed that the CSCI would assume responsibility for the star ratings system introduced last year to measure social services departments’ performance and that the assessment process would remain the same.

Four commissioners were also appointed to the shadow board last week: Jim Mansell, professor of Applied Psychology of Learning Disability at the University of Kent; Olu Olasode, a public services productivity and finance consultant who has undertaken assignments for the Audit Commission; John Knight, head of external policy at disability charity The Leonard Cheshire Foundation; and Peter Westland, former director of social services at Hammersmith and Fulham Council in London.